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060630-N-0000X-001 Newport News, Va. (June 30, 2006) - Artist Rendering - A conceptual rendering of CVN 78, the first of a new generation carrier design, CVN 21, for the U.S. Navy. U.S. Navy Photo courtesy Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding (RELEASED)

100th Birthday of CVN 78 Namesake Recognized

By Rear Adm. Tom Moore
Program Executive Officer, Aircraft Carriers

Sunday, July 14th marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gerald R. Ford, 38th president of the United States. This was an important historical milestone for the country because of President Ford’s exceptional legacy of service, but also an important historical milestone for the Navy as we fittingly get ready to christen and launch the first of our next generation of aircraft carriers, the Gerald R. Ford class with the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

Representatives of Newport News Shipbuilding unveil a model of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich. Pictured with the shipbuilders are Susan Ford Bales, right, the ship's sponsor and President Ford's daughter, and representatives of the ship's crew. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding by Ricky Thompson/Released)
Representatives of Newport News Shipbuilding unveil a model of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich. Pictured with the shipbuilders are Susan Ford Bales, right, the ship’s sponsor and President Ford’s daughter, and representatives of the ship’s crew. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding by Ricky Thompson/Released)

 

Former President Ford was born in 1913, around the time of Eugene Ely’s pioneering flights aboard USS Birmingham and USS Pennsylvania. It was also the same year USS Jupiter was commissioned, the ship that was converted into USS Langley (CV 1), the first U.S. aircraft carrier.

US Navy Lieutenant, Gerald R. Ford at his parents' home, 1945. Ford served on board USS Monterey (CVL 26) Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Library.
US Navy Lieutenant, Gerald R. Ford at his parents’ home, 1945. Ford served on board USS Monterey (CVL 26) Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Library.

As a young man, Gerald R. Ford recognized his call to patriotic service and joined the Navy. He served aboard USS Monterey (CVL 26) from her construction to her involvement in the South Pacific in WWII. He was the first President to have served aboard an aircraft carrier, and witnessed their tremendous fighting power at the battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf. USS Monterey was one of nine aircraft carriers based off the Cleveland class light cruiser design to reduce development costs and speed construction. Similarly, Ford class carriers use the hull form of the Nimitz class, while being completely redesigned internally, reducing development time and cost.

During his presidency, Gerald R. Ford witnessed the value of aircraft carriers during a crisis response when he ordered USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and USS Coral Sea (CV 43) to provide air cover for the evacuation of South Vietnam. He was the principal speaker at the commissioning of USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in 1975, and the keel was laid for USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during his administration.

Susan Ford Bales, daughter of late President Gerald R. Ford and shipÕs sponsor, speaks with Capt. John Meier, prospective commanding officer for the future nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathanael Miller/Released)
Susan Ford Bales, daughter of late President Gerald R. Ford and shipÕs sponsor, speaks with Capt. John Meier, prospective commanding officer for the future nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathanael Miller/Released)

Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the late president invited me to participate in President Ford’s 100th birthday commemoration in Grand Rapids, Mich., and on behalf of the Navy I was honored to participate.  I took part in a wreath laying at President and Mrs. Ford’s tomb. I also attended the grand opening of a CVN 78 exhibit at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, accompanied by the president of Newport News Shipbuilding, Matt Mulherin, the prospective commanding officer of CVN 78, Capt. “Oscar” Meier, and Mrs. Ford Bales to unveil a model of CVN 78 to be displayed at the museum.

Naming our nation’s newest aircraft carrier after President Ford honors his lifetime of service.  CVN 78 will embody the operational lessons learned from almost 100 years of aircraft carrier operations,  and will carry them forward another 100 years. When the projected 10th and final Ford class aircraft carrier is retired in 2110, our nation will commemorate almost 100 years of service from President Ford’s namesake aircraft carrier class. We are honored to have his daughter, Mrs. Susan Ford Bales as sponsor of CVN 78 and have the opportunity to remember this great man and his legacy.

What do you think? Let us know by commenting below.

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3 comments

  1. remember a President, christen a fleet with is name, a honor we will done to him, a honor for us to may do so and difond his name on sea. We honor him and are honored to remember a big man , we Navy tribute him our gratitude on such manner.
    claudio alpaca

  2. USS GERALD R. FORD

    In 1980, as a member of Richmond, Virginia’s SWAT Team, I
    had to guard Gerald Ford as he visited Richmond to “stump” for Ronald Reagan.
    Getting off at 0300, we had to be back at 0900 to guard the president. Being
    sleepy and remembering the two attempts on his life in 1975, my partner and I
    both resolved to “take a bullet” for the ‘old man.’ No one would harm him on
    our watch! It was probably the most stressed filled day of my life! Every time
    poor Mr. Ford would move, we would literally jump in front of him. Finally, the
    day came to a close and Mr. Ford was making his exit. As he was about to enter
    his limo, he turned and looked at me. Maybe it was the exhaustion in my face,
    or possibly my need for a haircut, or maybe it was the “Hollywood” wrap-around
    sunglasses or the permanent snarl I displayed. What-ever it was, Mr. Ford made
    a bee-line for me and shook my hand. I shall never forget his words.

    “I want to thank
    you and your friends for taking such good care of me today.” His handshake was
    vigorous and friendly. I have never forgotten it. Mr. Ford was a GENTLEMAN’S
    GENTLEMAN. He was kind, considerate and a very humble man. What you saw on
    camera you saw behind the camera. I have never met anyone with power who was as
    gracious as he was. He became my hero.

    After retirement, I
    became a substitute middle-school teacher. The story of Mr. Ford has been told
    time and again to young 7th and 8th graders. Afterwards,
    they always want to ‘shake the hand that shook the hand of the President of the
    United States.’ Asked by the principal of Short Pump Middle School (I was the
    only naval reserve veteran who worked there) to deliver the Veteran’s Day
    speech in 2010 to a group of 900 teachers, students, staff and even cafeteria
    workers, I complied. I told the story of guarding Mr. Ford and of his World War
    Two service. I now teach history in the Community College system and always
    tell my classes about my day with the president. You know, it was either ‘Guarding
    Jerry’ or ‘Guarding Tess’ and I think I got the better end of the deal.

    During ‘Halsey’s
    Typhoon’ on board USS Monterey, Mr. Ford slid across the flight deck and over
    the side! He landed in a steel wire net and hung on for life. Finally, he made
    his way below decks and took charge of the firefighting party in the engine
    room. He helped save the ship and took her home. Again, he was one of the ‘GREATEST
    GENERATION’.

    I am very proud of
    guarding the president and vowing to ‘take a bullet’ for him. You can take that
    one to the bank; he was that important.

    I am very happy
    that our country is naming a super-carrier for such a great man, a man who took
    the time to speak and shake hands with one of the ‘little people.’

    Robert Wade

    Richmond, Va.

  3. USS GERALD R. FORD

    In 1980, as a member of Richmond, Virginia’s SWAT Team, I
    had to guard Gerald Ford as he visited Richmond to “stump” for Ronald Reagan.
    Getting off at 0300, we had to be back at 0900 to guard the president. Being
    sleepy and remembering the two attempts on his life in 1975, my partner and I
    both resolved to “take a bullet” for the ‘old man.’ No one would harm him on
    our watch! It was probably the most stressed filled day of my life! Every time
    poor Mr. Ford would move, we would literally jump in front of him. Finally, the
    day came to a close and Mr. Ford was making his exit. As he was about to enter
    his limo, he turned and looked at me. Maybe it was the exhaustion in my face,
    or possibly my need for a haircut, or maybe it was the “Hollywood” wrap-around
    sunglasses or the permanent snarl I displayed. What-ever it was, Mr. Ford made
    a bee-line for me and shook my hand. I shall never forget his words.

    “I want to thank
    you and your friends for taking such good care of me today.” His handshake was
    vigorous and friendly. I have never forgotten it. Mr. Ford was a GENTLEMAN’S
    GENTLEMAN. He was kind, considerate and a very humble man. What you saw on
    camera you saw behind the camera. I have never met anyone with power who was as
    gracious as he was. He became my hero.

    After retirement, I
    became a substitute middle-school teacher. The story of Mr. Ford has been told
    time and again to young 7th and 8th graders. Afterwards,
    they always want to ‘shake the hand that shook the hand of the President of the
    United States.’ Asked by the principal of Short Pump Middle School (I was the
    only naval reserve veteran who worked there) to deliver the Veteran’s Day
    speech in 2010 to a group of 900 teachers, students, staff and even cafeteria
    workers, I complied. I told the story of guarding Mr. Ford and of his World War
    Two service. I now teach history in the Community College system and always
    tell my classes about my day with the president. You know, it was either ‘Guarding
    Jerry’ or ‘Guarding Tess’ and I think I got the better end of the deal.

    During ‘Halsey’s
    Typhoon’ on board USS Monterey, Mr. Ford slid across the flight deck and over
    the side! He landed in a steel wire net and hung on for life. Finally, he made
    his way below decks and took charge of the firefighting party in the engine
    room. He helped save the ship and took her home. Again, he was one of the ‘GREATEST
    GENERATION’.

    I am very proud of
    guarding the president and vowing to ‘take a bullet’ for him. You can take that
    one to the bank; he was that important.

    I am very happy
    that our country is naming a super-carrier for such a great man, a man who took
    the time to speak and shake hands with one of the ‘little people.’

    Professor Robert Wade

    Richmond, Va.

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